Two Poems by Jonah Mixon-Webster

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy

Paranoiac N° 5: Hoplomania

Everybody got a pistol /everybody got a .45
and the philosophy seems to be / least near as I can see
when other folks give up theirs / I’ll give up mine

—Gil Scott-Heron, “Gun”

The gun appears at a gathering of little niggas in the driveway. The gun appears
with a pearl handle, in silk, in a lockbox inside my mother’s headboard. The gun
appears on the belt of a middle school liaison. The gun appears in leather atop
my father’s woven-wood placemat. The gun appears tucked on the waist of my
big brother. The gun appears with those other niggas at the Mini Mart. The gun
appears as a shotty pointed before my windshield. The gun appears in the bando
on the bend of its cushion. The gun appears in chrome, stuck through the
window of a Dodge, firing outside of Paradise. The gun appears as signage. The
gun appears soaking the lot with a steady light. The gun appears behind the
bulletproof glass at BP. The gun appears in hand at the table of a drunk. The gun
appears as a misfire. The gun appears at my homie’s crib—as a stick. The gun
appears before the weather. The gun appears unbuckled on the officers who
abound me. The gun appears in the basement, a father and his three sons fill
thirty clips that hold fifteen rounds each. The gun appears in double. The gun
appears on a strap while my other brother eats a sandwich. The gun appears on
the counter behind where I sit. The gun appears in the mind of my Uber driver
having heard me make a clink. The gun appears loaded. The gun appears as a
Warhol—a print tacked on the head of a shut room. The gun appears off another
hip. The gun appears in front of the tiny air in my face. The gun appears as a
joke. The gun appears as my fist in a hot mouth in no time.

The Ugliest Nigga I Know / Is The Ugliest Nigga I Seen

In the half-shined picture refracted by the glass,
the sputtered window captures a negroid catalog:
back-neck black-black a flag of naps, black
ear wax, black folliculitis, black
would-be empty holes in the eye, black
elbow and elbow, knees black capped, black
hand-bones like the nigga been diggin’
coal barehanded, black patchy
crust from ringworm or another alien—
“Alligator skin” the brother says
before the fade, the brother’s mama
yells “Loose scalp!” says, “Yo’ daddy
got it too, y’all and them heads!”


—once, a whole school bus full of 5th graders clapped and sang Parliament’s “Flashlight” cuz light-skin Brittney said “his big fo’ head” reflected the Sun
                         like, obviously enough, a flashlight and that nigga ain’t say a word

Photo of Jonah Mixon-Webster

Photo of Jonah Mixon-Webster

Jonah Mixon-Webster is a poet, sound artist, and educator from Flint, MI. He is a Ph.D. candidate in English Studies at Illinois State University where he is currently writing the dissertation Stereo(TYPE): A Paracolonial Approach to Black Poetry in the 21st Century. He is the recipient of fellowships from Vermont Studio Center, Callaloo Writer’s Workshop. His poetry and hybrid works are featured or forthcoming in Barzakh, the Shade Journal, small po[r]tions, Assaracus, Callaloo, LA Review of Books' Voluble and Best American Experimental Writing 2018.